This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." We need to realize this basic principle. He does not change. He is always willing to heal. He may not heal as much today as He did back then, because we are not living in an age of faith. Frankly, most people today have not been taught this principle of faith, and they have not been taught very much about healing at all.
We are going to pick up our study here at the end of Matthew 8. Follow along if you can with your own Bible. You will get much more out of this study if you can follow along in your Bible and really understand exactly what Jesus said.
When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."
Was Jesus willing to heal the sick? What is God's will?
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
I have often said that Hebrews.13:8 is the scripture that tells us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." We need to realize this basic principle. He does not change. He is always willing to heal. He may not heal as much today as He did back then, because we are not living in an age of faith. Frankly, most people today have not been taught this principle of faith, and they have not been taught very much about healing at all. But Jesus has not changed. He is still there; He has all the power in the universe, and He can heal any kind of sickness, any kind of disease at all.
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
He wanted this to be at least a witness to the Jewish hierarchy.
Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented."
My friends, here was a captain over 100 soldiers, a captain of the occupation army. This centurion was certainly a man in power, but he still respected Jesus very highly, sensing that this was a man of the Great God, even though the centurion may not have known that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus honored his attitude.
And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him." The centurion answered and said, "Lord", [notice this man's humility and his faith] "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. [He must have said that with an attitude of really knowing it was going to happen.] For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."
In other words, the centurion said "About face!" and these soldiers would turn about face. When he said, "Forward, march!" they would obey him and march forward! He said "I know, Lord, that you have power over sickness and disease, and You can just say it and it will be done!… just as I tell my servants and my soldiers. This centurion had a truly amazing attitude, and Jesus honored it.
When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! [Even the Jews there, who should have known better—who knew the God of the Old Testament, who knew the Truth—they did not have that kind of sincere, childlike faith that this centurion had.] And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. [So many would come and sit down with WHO?—with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are the fathers; they are going to be there in the resurrection from the dead in the Kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven.] But the sons [and daughters] of the kingdom [In other words, these natural born Jews who rejected Christ and rejected the Truth.] will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Many of Jesus Christ's generation will be horribly sorry and remorseful when they realize that the very Son of God was among them yet they didn't understand, they didn't care and they didn't respond. They blew it! They will not be in the Kingdom of God, at least not in the first resurrection.
Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." [So He said it would be done.] And his servant was healed that same hour. Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, [Here He comes into the house of the Apostle Peter. Peter was married—he was not an unmarried pope; he was a married man with a mother-in-law.] He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.
We often find that healing is carried out by laying on hands. In this case, Jesus just touched her hand.
When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, [So He healed the sick, he cast out demons—they often go hand in hand.] that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses."
Isaiah prophesied, as you will see in Isaiah 53:4, that Christ is to bear our sicknesses and by His stripes we are healed. The stripes and the suffering that was laid on Him, and the scourging He received on that last night before He died, was His paying the penalty for the broken laws, the broken physical laws, which bring on sickness and disease. Christ took that penalty on Himself.
And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. [He did not want to just heal more people at that point. He wanted to preach the truth, of course—that was more important.] Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
Jesus did not have a great big palace like some religious leaders. And He did not have a big house either. In his travels He just had to go here and there, completely trusting in God and many nights sleeping out under the stars, in bed-rolls or in the homes of others.
Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."
He was not being harsh. It was a common custom of the Jews to return home when an elderly parent began to be sickly. Sometimes they would stay for weeks or months. Jesus said, "No, it is more important that you come and help out here in the Work of Almighty God."
Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.
So Jesus preached and taught and healed and interacted with these people, perhaps for hours. Yet He was God in the flesh, so He, like us, became tired sometimes. Here He had a healthy sleep. He was not tense; He just plopped right down and went to sleep.
Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?"
That should tell us something! We, today, are a VERY faithless generation. Most of us would not begin to think that we could get up and rebuke the sea and ask God in heaven to stop it. But Jesus did. Jesus knew that God was there. Jesus knew that He could immediately stop it. He had TOTAL FAITH in the Creator to intervene and stop it, because, of course, He had greater faith than any other human being, since He was the One by whom God created that very lake, the One by whom God created everything that is. So He believed, and knew, that His Father was there and would do that. As Jesus said: "I and My Father are One." Christ was in total union with His Father in His attitude, in His thinking, and in His approach.
"Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" [Here He indicates that we should have a lot more faith.] Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" [They were just startled and probably had a cold sweat running down their backs. "What is going on?" they were thinking.] When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, [they were kind of wild men] coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"
The demons know a true servant of God. They certainly recognized Christ, and they were afraid of Him.
Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding. [A herd of hogs.] So the demons begged Him, saying, "If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of [hogs]."
Hogs are unclean animals. These Jews should not have been raising such animals, and they knew that. They had been taught that, and Jesus knew so. So He allowed these demons to go into this whole herd of swine.
And He said to them, "Go." So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water. [They just drowned themselves.] Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.
Instead of rejoicing, these hog-raisers were so afraid of losing their money that they were not impressed by the Son of the Great God right there among them. They were afraid of losing their pigs.
And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.
They asked the Son of God to leave. Think about it! If they had asked the Son of God to stay—to teach them the truth, to heal their sick—they might have had dozens or hundreds of people healed. They might have had their whole lives changed, but they were too busy raising something that would damage the health of other human beings. They did not want to give that up.
So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. [Now He is back in Capernaum, which was His headquarters at this time.] Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. [So this man was totally paralyzed, just lying there helpless.] When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? [Why are you having these wrong attitudes?] For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk?'"
Healing and forgiveness of sins go hand in hand. When your sins are forgiven, God forgives spiritual sins and removes the penalty. When you are healed physically, God removes the penalty of broken law, of broken physical principles, and there is no side effect. When you use drugs and have operations, there are always side effects. But there are no side effects when you trust in God! The time is coming, my friends, when POWERFUL disease epidemics are going to come raging through our lands and we are going to have to trust God for healing more than ever. We need to think about this ahead of time. We need to realize now that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
"But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"; then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."
This man was immediately healed and got up.
Matt. 9:8-9, 11-12
Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men. [They were very grateful. Often people are not grateful and have not been grateful when God would intervene, but these men are grateful.] As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. [Here is a tax collector—but the man was humble. He apparently felt guilty.] And He said to him, "Follow Me." [They had this big banquet at this man's house. Often the tax collectors, back then at least, got wealthy.] And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, [When you are well, you don't need to go to the doctor.] but those who are sick."
Here, Jesus indicated that physicians were sometimes sought. It is not wrong to do that. Each one of us has to decide how far to go. Often, people do see a need to have their bones set, or to have some procedure done. They can be healed by God, but God doesn't normally heal our bones, or pull our teeth, or do all kinds of things that He knows we can and often should do for ourselves. He explained that those who are sick have need of a physician.
"But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' [In other words, I would want people to be healed, I would have mercy on them.] For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
He was not trying to call those who were already well spiritually—or rather who thought they were. Christ was calling those who were weak, who were sick, who were cut off from God. He gave them the opportunity to be in the Kingdom of God and to be in the first resurrection if they would really listen and heed and do what the Son of God said when He was among them.
That's it for now.
This is Roderick C. Meredith for the Living Church of God.